Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Three New Indie Titles (And One Short!)

A mere tripod of full-length indie outings this week – plus one short – to give those with a hankering for smaller cinema some choices alongside big budget film fare.  Tales of somber egg donation, the mystery behind cults, dealing with some ghastly apparitions and Thanksgiving at gunpoint make up the three features films and one short dissected in this weeks edition of Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the critical skinny on Private Life, The Apostle, The Book Of Birdie and Holiday Hostage below!


A more somber and wry updated version of Immediate Family, Private Life scores big due to the folks involved.  Meaning the familiar tale of a couple trying to have a baby at all costs and enlisting the help of their niece for egg donation is given serious elevation from the players within.  The ever-solid Paul Giamatti as the dower dad to be, Kathryn Hahn as the manic mom in waiting and especially young Kayli Carter as their donor Sadie all bring humor and depth to their work here.  (With a little co-star help from Molly Shannon and John Carroll Lynch to boot!)  Under the decent direction of helmer Tamara Jenkins, Private Life takes a done to death subject and gives it life.


Having been a HUGE fan of the outstanding action fare by Director Gareth Evans (see The Raid 1 and 2!) I was eager to see what the hand-to-hand visual maestro could do in the arena of movie mystery.  Unfortunately suspense and all it entails is not Evans’ specialty and as such The Apostle is a thriller seriously lacking in thrills.  The initial premise sets the movie up right with a presumed dead brother heading to an island to rescue his sister from a corrupt cult.  (Insert The Wicker Man homages here!)  But from there the film goes in so many wild and fantastically unimpressive directions (creepy witches, young lovers, Lord Of The Flies like adult behaviors!) that the film never feels like a single cohesive story.  A sad step down from the five-star storytelling he’s become synonymous with, Hitchcock Evans is not.

(Reel Suspects)

A torturous genre outing very unsure what it ultimately wants to be, The Book Of Birdie is a brutal watch.  Part horror film (our lead gal sees dead people!), part coming of age story (she experiments with a sassy female groundskeeper!), part fantasy (there’s a barrage of unneeded animation sequences!) but all around bore fest, there’s simply nothing here to make the movie notable.  The only saving grace is the hypnotic wide eyes of leading lady Ilirida Memedovski – a slightly interesting chapter of this banal book that grows old quickly.


Holiday Hostage

A middle of the road romp (in short film form!) that sees a dysfunctional family held hostage by a gunman out to commit murder to sent back to the joint for life.  There are some decent laughs (the brother/sister squabbles are side-splitting!), some notable casting choices (Janice from Friends Maggie Wheeler plays the over-bearing mom!), but this one is seriously stolen by the sassy sexual musings by golden girl Bunny Levine – Granny got game.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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